Mushroom Ragu – Vegan and Delicious!

Happy New Year! I think we can all agree that last year was not what anyone expected. So, like many other people, I am going into 2021 with no preconceived plan of what my year will hold. I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions, in fact, last year was the first time I had set out some intentions or resolutions for the year! One was not to buy any new clothes, which I maintained until September (my favourite hoodie from hush shrank in the wash, and I felt I had to replace it) and the other was to try and learn Welsh. I can confidently say that I have used Duolingo and have studied Welsh every day for 350 days straight – so in 15 days I can say I have studied Welsh for a full year. But have I learned Welsh, no, not really. I can kind of read it. Definitely can’t speak it, and can only understand spoken Welsh if it’s said very slowly using the few words that I sort of know. But the intention was there!

Another thing I’ve been trying to do is eat less meat. Now that I have found a kind of Tofu I like (specifically Cauldron, preferably Teriyaki) this is a lot easier. But I’ve also been looking around for other recipes that don’t use tofu. I am not a fan of beans, in any format. So this eliminates most of the vegan recipes I seem to come across. But then I found one that substituted minced beef for mushrooms in a pasta sauce. I’ve since made it a few times, and I feel it’s got to the stage where I have tweaked it until I like it.

You do need a lot of mushrooms! When I make it for two I used about 500g of mushrooms (a mixture of Shitake and Chestnut). I sometimes throw in some Oyster mushrooms if I have some in the fridge that are past their best.

2 boxes of mushrooms on a counter.

You then need to spend a considerable amount of time cleaning them and chopping them. This process is made a lot easier if you have a decent brush to clean the mushrooms with. I use an Iris Hantwerk brush, and even though it is a bit pricey (considering it is for mushrooms) we use it all the time! This picture shows the pile of mushrooms at the halfway stage!

a huge pile of chopped mushrooms

I fry them in a saute pan with some onion and garlic. When you first add them to the pan it looks like a ridiculous amount of mushrooms!

mushrooms newly added to a frying pan

But once the mushrooms have cooked down it looks much more reasonable.

mushrooms cooked in a pan

Then I add in tomato paste, chilli paste, chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, white wine and balsamic vinegar and leave it to simmer until it is thick. I tend to check the seasoning towards the end and this time I needed to add in some salt and sugar.

Mushroom ragu sauce simmering in a pan

 

Then I cook some pasta (adding in a spoon of pasta water to the ragu sauce), the type of pasta varies depending on what I had in the cupboard – today was penne. Once the pasta is cooked I stir it through the sauce and serve.

a bowl of mushroom ragu and pasta

This sauce is really versatile. Sometimes I add in other vegetables as well, or switch out the vegetable stock for mushroom stock, which really ups the umami! 

Mushroom Ragu

Meat-Free Ragu Sauce, easy to make and delicious (if you like mushrooms!)
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British, Italian
Keyword: dairy-free, mushrooms, pasta, vegan
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients

  • 500 g Mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Shallots
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 5 tbsp White Wine (optional)
  • 70 g Tomato Puree
  • 1 tsp Chilli Paste
  • 400 g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Vegetable Stock Cube (or Mushroom)
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and Sugar (to taste)
  • 150 g Dried Pasta

Instructions

  • Prepare the mushrooms, shallots and garlic by washing/peeling (if necessary) and chopping.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the onions until soft. Add the mushrooms and fry until reduced in size. Add the garlic and continue to fry until fragrant.
  • Add in the wine and cook until you can't smell alcohol any more.
  • Add in the tomato puree and chilli paste and stir until well combined with the vegetables.
  • Add in the tin of tomatoes, crumble in the stock cube. Stir well.
  • Fill the now empty tin with water and add to the pan. Add in the vinegar and stir well.
  • Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
  • Tase the sauce and add salt and sugar if necessary.
  • Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions You can add some pasta water to the sauce to loosen it slightly before serving (plus it adds in some pasta starch and makes it even more delicious).
  • Drain the pasta and stir into the sauce. Serve and enjoy!

 

I am in a lucky position, I don’t have to worry about not being able to refill my cupboards with food. But that doesn’t mean that buying food regularly isn’t a challenge. I’m doing everything I can not to leave the flat and that includes going out to buy supplies. So we have to try and judge our food deliveries carefully. As we approach the end of a food delivery cycle, some of our dishes have to get “creative”.

This week we had some minced beef, an aubergine and some potatoes left. So I thought I would attempt to make a sort of Moussaka. I have a well-stocked drawer with what seems like random spices and herbs, so I had a dig to pull out things that felt like it would go in a Moussaka.

A cinnamon stick, some bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, ground cumin and barberries later, I felt up for the task. Side note, I have no idea where the barberries came from, but they looked interesting!

So I set to making a tinned tomato-based sauce with minced beef, onions and garlic. Fried up some aubergine slices and prepared some potato slices as well. Then I started to layer them in a ceramic dish, sort of like a lasagne.

I asked the boyfriend to make his cow’s milk-free white sauce (it’s a little unconventional, but absolutely delicious) and used it to top the Moussaka.

Yes, that is a dusting of pecorino cheese (it’s made from sheep’s milk, so my cow’s milk allergy boyfriend is fine!). And yes, that is the boyfriend, beautifully posing with said moussaka.

Finally, after 40mins in the oven, it was ready!

It was delicious, but next time I need to add more flavours and possibly some heat (chilli?). Also, if you have a second aubergine then I would recommend using it as well.

Beef Almost Moussaka

A homage to the original, but cow's milk-free and made from minced beef.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: beef, dinner, goats cheese
Author: kati10705

Ingredients

Meat Sauce

  • Olive Oil
  • 500 g Minced Beef
  • 2 Echalion Onions the pointy onions - sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic crushed
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Rosemary
  • 200 ml Red Wine
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 400 g Pulped Tomatoes (tinned)
  • 1 tbsp Barberries Optional

Layers

  • 1 Aubergine Sliced finely
  • 6 Charlotte Potatoes Sliced finely

White Sauce

  • 80 g Pure Margarine
  • 80 g Plain Flour
  • Hot Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 100 g Goats Cheese grated
  • 50 g Pecorino Cheese grated

Instructions

Meat Sauce

  • Gently fry the onions and garlic in oil until the onions are translucent.
  • Add the minced beef and continue to fry until the meat is cooked.
  • Add cumin and tomato puree and stir until well combined and fragrant.
  • Add red wine and cook until you can't smell the alcohol anymore.
  • Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, oregano, rosemary and barberries and mix well.
  • Pour over the tin of pulped tomatoes, the fill the tin with water and add to the pan.
  • Season to taste and simmer until the sauce is thick (stirring occasionally).

Layers

  • Meanwhile, fry the slices of aubergine until they have some colour, put aside on a plate.

White Sauce

  • Over a medium heat, combine the margarine and flour together to form a paste.
  • Add a drop of hot water to bring it together into a ball.
  • Keep stirring and continue cooking until the raw flour taste has gone.
  • Add hot water a little at a time, stirring well, until you have a thick sauce.
  • Add the goat's cheese and melt through.

Cooking the Moussaka

  • Preheat the oven to 200°c
  • Put half of the meat sauce in a ceramic baking dish.
  • Layer on half the sliced potatoes and top with half the aubergine.
  • Repeat with the other half of the meat sauce, potatoes and aubergine.
  • Top with the white sauce and cover the top with pecorino cheese.
  • Bake in the oven for 40mins, or until the potatoes are cooked through and the top is golden brown.

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